A DOMESTIC ADOPTION is one whereby the child was born in the United States and both the birth parents and the adoptive parents are US residents.
Non-Identifying Information and File Review
Non-identifying information is any information that does not identify or expressly lead to the identification of birth parents, adoptive parents or adoptees. While adoptive parents are given non-identifying background information on birth parents at the time of the adoption, some of this information may have been lost or not shared at the time of placement for some reason. Birth parents are also given non-identifying information on adoptive parents, but this, too, may have been lost or forgotten. In addition, the amount of background information shared may have changed over time. Information may have been added to the file over the years. If you are an adoptee age 18 or older, you can request any non-identifying information originally given to your adoptive parents. If you are under age 18, you will need parental permission before requesting this information.
If you are an adoptive parent or adoptee interested in receiving medical or background information on your birth parents, placing a letter for them in your adoption file or checking if a letter has been left for you, you can request assistance by contacting a post adoption counselor or completing this form. You can also contact us if you are a birth parent and would like information related to your child's birth, background information on the adoptive parents and/or any known updates about your child's welfare. In addition, we can place a letter for your child and/or the adoptive parents in the adoption file, or check if a letter has been left there for you.
We will need a copy of your driver’s license or birth certificate before any information can be released. The process of retrieving, reviewing and releasing the information may take two to three weeks. You will receive the information by phone or in writing.
Some states allow adoptees to access their original birth certificate, which includes the names of the birth mother and father, if known. Contact state officials in the state where the adoption was finalized for more information.
The adoption journey will take some birth parents and adoptees on a quest to find each other. While this is not of interest to some, others may feel keenly curious. For some adoptees, locating their birth family can be the key to feeling “whole.” Contact with birth parents can answer questions such as who they look like or take after. It can also yield important information related to their health history. For birth parents, there may be a strong desire for reassurance that their child is alive and well, a feeling that the child deserves answers only a birth parent can give, a need to explain the decision not to raise their child, and so forth. Whatever the reason, initiating the search process needs to be given careful consideration. Setting realistic expectations from the outset is key.
If you are an adoptee born in the US, or adoptive parents or birth parents of such a child, and are interested in establishing direct contact, you can request assistance by contacting our post adoption counselor or completing this form. We will need a copy of your driver’s license or birth certificate before any information can be released.
We will speak with you about your interest in locating birth parents or a birth child and ask questions to ensure that you are ready to begin this process. If we feel that more thought is needed before you begin your search, we may suggest some counseling to help you prepare for the experience.
Reunions between birth parents and birth children can be richly rewarding and meaningful, but getting there is often a long journey with many ups and downs. It is important to understand that you may not be successful in locating the person you hope to find. Addresses and other contact information change over time. Moreover, even if you are able to find this person, he or she may not be ready to have contact with you. Each individual's readiness for reunion depends upon many factors. In addition, if you do exchange information or meet, you may discover that this person is very different from the person you imagined. For your reunion to be successful, it is very important for you to be emotionally ready. In order to help you prepare for your journey, our post adopt counselors will speak with you about your hopes, dreams and motivations.
After speaking with you, we will review your file. Some files may contain a letter giving permission to release identifying information. Sometimes birth parents will place a letter in the child's file stating that they would like contact in the future. On occasion, an adoptive parent or adoptee may have done the same.
WHFC will attempt to contact the birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee using the last known address or telephone number in the file. We are aware that some birth parents may not have told family members about the adoption, so we are careful not to identify ourselves as an adoption agency during contact.
Time frames to establish contact vary. For example, if we make contact right away using a last known address or telephone number in the file, the search may be very fast. On the other hand, if we are not able to get a response, or we are given different leads to pursue, the process can take longer.
If we can locate the person you seek – If we are able to locate the person you are seeking and he or she wants contact with you, we need their written permission to release their contact information to you. Similarly, we will need your written permission to release your contact information to them. If the person you are seeking does not want contact, we will inform you right away. If a birth parent is seeking contact with a birth child under the age of 21, written permission from the adoptive parent is required.
You will have a number of options regarding your initial contact. Before arranging a face-to-face meeting, we recommend you write a letter introducing yourself, exchange photos, share your email address and speak by telephone.
For some, this process may be gradual. For others, a meeting cannot come soon enough. There is no absolute right or wrong way to make contact with a birth relative. Each journey is personal, and the two of you will determine what works best.
If we cannot locate the person you seek – Please be advised that it is not unusual for the person you are looking for to have moved. Often we cannot find a forwarding address or telephone number. If we are unable to locate the person you seek, we will give you the names of registries and other resources so that you can continue to search on your own. In general, registries are free, but there are often fees associated with locating an individual. How much you want to spend and/or how much time and energy you will want to invest is a personal and sometimes financial decision. If a search is successful, the thought of initial contact with this person can be frightening and raise deep feelings of rejection. If you are experiencing these feelings, we would be happy to make the initial call or send a letter on your behalf.
Counseling and Support: We can offer information and support to help you initiate your search. For some, this process is highly emotional and may raise feelings of fear, rejection, anger, worry or other difficult emotions. Taking the time to discuss your desire to search with a counselor can be helpful. We can also help you locate a counselor or other resources for support.
Additionally, feel free to peruse some resources to assist you in your search.